Air Asia takes off at Blackcomb
Aspen’s queen of extreme Asia Jenkins stuck a third-place at the Canadian Freeskiing Championships last week at the Whistler-Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia.
Jenkins, a 24-year-old Aspen resident, was thrilled with the result; she termed it her best “by far” in “one of the big deal events” of big mountain freeskiing. With the podium finish, Jenkins is qualified to compete in freeskiing’s elite World Tour, which stops next at Snowbird in Utah Jan. 24-26.
Whistler-Blackcomb local Jennifer Ashton won the event among twelve women who advanced to the competition finals held at Blackcomb, including four Americans. Jenkins was the only American in the top five.
A runner-up in December’s 24 Hours of Aspen race along with partner Heather Paul, Jenkins has skied all over the world, but never before at Whistler or Blackcomb.
“It was just huge,” Jenkins explained. “No out of bounds. Exposed rock everywhere. No trees. Ten times the scale of what I’m used to.”
Because Jenkins lacked the points needed for a direct berth to the main event, she had to compete in two days of qualifying competitions, where both the men’s and women’s fields were cut by more than half.
“It was so competitive with lots of internationals,” Jenkins said. “If I had pushed it, I probably could’ve gotten a bib in the finals, but I didn’t. Besides, I usually do better when I have to qualify and I may have benefited from it.”
On the first day of competition skiing, on Jan. 10, Jenkins found herself on Chainsaw Ridge, an area “that personally scared the hell out of me,” she said.
“No easy way down and the whole ridge was a no-fall zone,” Jenkins said. “So I was a little nervous at the top. I ran second, and my legs were already tired from the two qualifying days while the other girls were coming in fresh.”
Jenkins left whatever butterflies she was feeling at the top, stuck her line and air, and finished the day in second place.
“As I watched the rest of the girls, I had never seen so many gutsy lines,” Jenkins said. “I think the women took skiing to a new level. For once we were skiing like men. … It was amazing. This one girl took a huge fall. She almost died, and she was just pissed that she fell. I think she should have been a little more thankful.”
On Day 2 of the competition, in an area known as Diamond Bowl, Jenkins went second to last.
“When I finished the news was the girl in third had a killer line; mine was not that technical so I was not surprised when I got third, but nonetheless very proud.”
Jenkins, the only skier who competed in the qualfiying rounds to crack the top five, earned $700 in prize money for her efforts.
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